Similarly, I had a blast with Shadow Warrior 2, a fast-paced shooter where you'd really notice input lag. It suffered from more compression artifacts than The Witcher 3, but it was still impressive. My brain had a lot of trouble reconciling the fact that a modern PC game was being rendered on a server somewhere and piped to my TV through a tiny box.
Naturally, the quality of your GeForce Now experience will come down to your networking internet setup. It was fine when connected wirelessly on my 802.11AC network on a Netgear Nighthawk router, which is backed by a fairly reliable 100Mbps cable connection. But if any part of your internet connection is flaky, you can expect to encounter plenty of issues. I'm sure it would perform even better when connected over Ethernet, but personally, that's something I'm trying to avoid in 2017. (Though I'd recommend it if you want the best overall experience.) The streaming service will also cost you: It's $7.99 a month for access to a select library of games, and you'll have to buy new titles at full price.
If you just want to stream games from your PC, there's NVIDIA's Gamestream feature. It basically renders games on your computer and pipes that over to your TV -- much like GeForce Now, but on your home network. It's only available to GeForce video card owners, but given that they're the primary audience for the Shield, that's not a very harsh restriction.
It was a cinch using Gamestream to stream Gears of War 4 on my TV with a 1440p (2K) resolution, ultra quality settings and 5.1 surround sound. There wasn't any lag or compression artifacts; it looked like I had just strung a long HDMI cable to my TV from my computer. And I would know: That's how I usually play PC games in my living room. Of course, Gamestream's performance is dependent on both your network setup and the hardware in your computer. (I have a decent gaming rig powered by an NVIDIA GTX 1080 GPU, so I didn't really need more power.)
Some titles, like Forza Horizon 3 and Dishonored 2, exhibited some strange texture issues when played over Gamestream, but those also look like problems that some driver and software updates could fix. When it worked properly, though, it was hard not to be impressed by the feature.
Being an Android TV device and all, the Shield can also play actual Android games. And I'm not just talking crummy little mobile games; there are older, big-name titles available, like Resident Evil 5 and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. But while it was nice to have the option to play those games, they were mostly disappointing. Resident Evil 5, for example, was a stuttering mess that crashed almost every time I loaded it. To be honest, I'd rather spend time playing GeForce Now and Gamestream titles, as opposed to suffering through bad versions of older games.
There are countless cheaper video streaming options out there, like the $150 Apple TV and all of Roku's devices (which can also handle 4K/HDR videos starting at $100). Even in the gaming arena, the Shield is going up against Valve's $50 Steam Link, which can also bring PC games to any TV in your home. That device also works with a variety of controllers, like the Xbox One's and the PlayStation 4's, as well as Valve's $50 Steam controller.
If you're intrigued by the Shield and need more built-in storage, there's also the $300 Shield Pro. That's basically the older Shield box with a 500GB hard drive. On top of that, you'll also get the microSD card slot and micro-USB port (for a direct PC connection) that were left off of the smaller box.
If you're considering shelling out $200 for the Shield, it's also hard not to consider an actual gaming console. Both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One S start at around $300 today, and you can often find deals and bundles that drop the price significantly. If all you care about is games, it makes a lot more sense to invest in boxes that can actually power them all without the need for a streaming subscription.
The new Shield is a lot like the old Shield: a niche streaming device for gamers with money to burn. While it would have been nice to see some major upgrades this time around, the fact that it can still perform fairly well with aging hardware is a sign that it's conceptually sound. And, at the very least, it proves that NVIDIA finally learned how to make a decent game controller.
Still photos by Shivani Khattar.